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CAS 110/120 - Public Speaking / Interpersonal Communication

This guide provides resources to help support the CAS 110/120 course and assignments.

Choosing A Topic

Choosing a Topic




Consider these questions:

  • What subjects or ideas interest you?
  • What kinds of life experience do you have?
  • What kinds of issues have affected you or people you care about?
  • Do you have a passion about an idea, a question, a subject? How can you explain or describe it such that others might be passionate about it as well?
  • Does your subject have an edge? Does the topic have passionate supporters and opponents as well as being logical and reasonable? Is it debatable? Is it an unsolved problem?

A good practice is to make a list of ideas.

Choosing a Topic

Sample Topics

Here are some general topics for (interpersonal) speeches:

  • Language use
  • Interpersonal communication in business relationships
  • Nonverbal communication and behavior
  • Gender differences in interpersonal communication
  • Perception
  • Listening
  • Social cognition and selfhood
  • Self-disclosure
  • Relational development
  • Social and personal relationships
  • Family and intimate relationships and communications styles
  • Infant communication
  • Deception in interpersonal relationships
  • Conflict and conflict resolution
  • Power in communication: misuse of power in relationships
  • Interpersonal communication in business relationships
  • How do children communication
  • Intergenerational communicaton
  • Fear and apprehension
  • Gestures
  • Group Behavior, communication, identity
  • Psychology of gropus
  • Crossing cultures in communication
  • Here are two sources to help you to discover possible speech topics:



Narrow Topic

With the topics on your list, ask yourself these questions:

  • Which topics are most worthy of your time?
  • Why is your topic significant?
  • Does it work with my assignment? (Is your speech informative, persuasive, etc.)

It is often beneficial (unless the topic is given or encouraged) to avoid heavily discussed topics. This helps to keep the speech interesting rather than giving an audience information they hear regularly.

Overused topics may include abortion, global warming, affirmative action, the death penalty, recycling, and sex and violence in the media. There is always a possibility to find an interesting angle or portion of the topic, but make sure you verify it with a professor first.

One way to develop these ideas is to make a concept map. Below is a sample of the student's concept map if they focused on knitting.



Evaluate The Topic

After narrowing the topic, evaluate your speech to see if it is a good fit for your assignment.


1. Make sure you can describe your topic clearly.

If it takes a while to explain your topic is either too complicated or too broad. Consider your time requirements and if you can adequately discuss the topic.

2. Ask yourself the purpose of the speech.

Begin to focus on what you want to say and why. Part of this will already be dictated by the type of speech you are assigned. Making a concept map can help provide you with ideas.

3. Consider your audience.

Who will hear the information? Will they have experience with the topic? What other factors will influence how they will interpret the information?

4. Discover if there is research available on the topic.

You will want to use solid, scholarly information on the topic. General information might be easy to find, but you will need facts and research to back up your claims and information.

Topic Example

Topic Example: Lying

For example: My Topic Is...

Let's say that my topic is on Lying.

The PURPOSE of my speech is to provide my audience with information about lying.

First I want to brainstorm and begin to focus on what I want to say. Making a concept map will help in that process. I need to be mindful of the academic and statistical research that may be done on my topic. I know I will find general information but will I be able to formulate a topic that is supported by research?

Who is my AUDIENCE?  Will my audience be experienced at lying?   Students? Adults? Children? How I present my information is based on who will hear what I have to say.

An evaluation of the speech might look like this:


My Topic: Lying - How to recognize if someone is lying.

Purpose: To provide my audience with information about lying.

Audience: Professor and other college students.

Research: Yes, possibly in psychology and sociology journals.

TED Talk: lying

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